Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Judicial draft laws still unseen: rights groups

Judicial draft laws still unseen: rights groups

Judicial draft laws still unseen: rights groups

Two civil society organisations are calling on Prime Minister Hun Sen to publish three long-gestating draft laws on judicial reform to allow ample time for “genuine, inclusive and meaningful participation in the drafting process”.

Hun Sen said in a speech last Wednesday that the three laws – the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Courts, the Law on the Amendment of the Supreme Council of Magistracy and the Law on the Status of Judges and Prosecutors – were in the final stages of drafting, and would hopefully be implemented by mid-year.

However, the Ministry of Justice has been tight-lipped on the specifics of those laws, and the Cambodian Center for Human Rights and the NGO umbrella group Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee said in an open letter, dated March 7 and released yesterday, that they “are seriously concerned by the opacity surrounding the draft legislations”.

Requests to view the laws were rebuffed by the Justice Ministry, as the laws were still just drafts, the letter says.

“However, it is crucial that the draft legislations are made public immediately to allow for relevant stakeholders … to give feedback and make comments,” it continues. “If only a final version of the legislation is made public, this would give no opportunity for the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament to analyse the recommendations made by the different stakeholders, and to incorporate them into the final version.”

CCHR president Ou Virak said yesterday that while it would “be extremely difficult for the rule of law to get any worse”, without outside input, the new laws might nonetheless fall short of ensuring badly needed judicial independence.

“It could be that they’re passing it, and it doesn’t make any change on the ground. I think that’s the real concern,” he said.

“All these laws need to make sure, for example, that the Supreme Council of Magistracy is completely independent from the executive [branch],” he added.

But according to legal expert Sok Sam Oeun – who said he read a leaked draft of the law on the organisation of the courts and had the law on the Supreme Council of Magistracy described to him – the new legislation might do just the opposite.

“If we look at the law on the Supreme Council of Magistracy, the Minister of Justice has more power than before. Why? Because another two members are from the Ministry of Justice, so it means the [ministry] has three voices, really,” he said. “That’s why I’m concerned about interference from the Ministry of Justice, which is a political body.”

Ministry official Sam Prachea Manith would only say yesterday that the “laws are related to the reform of the judicial system”, but noted that media would be given one hour’s access to a two-day meeting on the law on judges and prosecutors slated to begin on Wednesday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement